February 13, 2012

Wyden Statement on County Payments Funding in the President’s Budget

Washington, D.C. – Funding for the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination Act -- commonly known as “county payments” -- is included as “mandatory” spending in President Obama’s Fiscal Year 2013 budget released today.  (Previous years’ budgets have listed the county payments program as “discretionary” spending.)  

U.S. Senator Ron Wyden (D-Ore.) issued the following statement in support of including the program with this distinction:

“While getting county payments in the president’s budget doesn’t guarantee its extension, having the president recognize county payments as a mandatory spending program is a significant step in the right direction.

“Everyone in Oregon understands the importance of the county payments program.  We know that county payments don’t fund luxuries, they fund necessities -- like roads and schools -- and we know that rural counties need this lifeline to get off the fiscal rollercoaster long enough to find a long term financial solution.  But the only way to get a multi-year extension of the county payments program signed into law is to get the White House and the rest of Congress to understand the importance of the program too.  

“We have been working around-the-clock, with colleagues and county representatives to get the White House and Congressional colleagues on board with an extension and the president’s budget shows that we are making progress.  The proposal isn’t perfect, but it gives us something to work with while making it clear that abandoning rural communities is not an option.”

Programs listed as mandatory spending in the president’s budget are considered to be essential and are not subject to annual approval by Congressional appropriators. Unlike programs designated as discretionary spending, mandatory spending is controlled by laws other than the annual appropriations acts and funding is provided automatically without requiring further action by Congress. In the president’s 2012 budget, County Payments were designated as discretionary.